Thursday, October 26, 2006
I know I haven't fully dealt with the medallion yet, but as a designer you need to think of the whole project as well as the individual pieces. If you have 2 parts that need to fit together you have to design them both together so that the connecting parts - connect.
My second step was to create a band for the medallion. It needed to be something similar to the medallion so that they looked like they belonged together, not too skinny, and not too wide. I also had to think about how to attach the band. I could easily just tat them separately, but there are fewer ends if you can do it in one piece. The medallion was going to start with the snowflake so I was using both cloverleaves and individual rings and cloverleaves are a bigger shape for a wider band.
You want to think about the profile of different elements of tatting when you are designing a piece of lace. The diagram at the left shows nose to nose cloverleaves. It makes a nice wide band, but it is kind of ordinary and boring.The point where the 2 middle rings connect makes solid bars and where the side ring of one cloverleaf connects with the next cloverleaf there is an empty space. Visually it gives a ladder effect, which wasn't quite what I had in mind for the band.
I had used the inward facing cloverleaves to keep the small outer rings in place on the medallion but I really didn't need anything that large. As I looked at my first try I realized that I could just add in more little outer rings and that would give me the size I needed and it would still give me the filigree effect. So on the next snowflake I put some picots on the chain on either side of the small ring and I did a second row with chains and small rings filling in the spaces.
The partial drawing on the right is the design I ended up with. There is no stitch count and only part of the drawing. This is a design primer after all, you're supposed to be figuring this stuff out.
As I was making the outer ring and chain row, I realized I could just continue the chain right on out to the band doing chains and cloverleaves, then turn it at the end and come back doing more chains and cloverleaves and just continue around the rest of the medallion, repeating it on the second side, doing it all in one piece. I like things that are all in one piece, that means fewer ends to hide.
Those cloverleaves really are boring. So I dropped off one small side ring and ended up with a whole cloverleaf sandwiched in between 2 partial cloverleaves. It gave the same width to the band, but it broke up the ordinary cloverleaf shape and as an overall visual effect, resulted in solid blocks of colour separated by negative space in the band.
And again here is the drawing of the band without the stitch count.
Sometimes designing means that you do some things by planning and some things by trial and error. You can see the final results here. The picture shows the medallion and one side of the choker.
You can easily create your own choker. Select a snowflake you like, add a row to make it round or square or diamond shape, or whatever you like and add a matching row of edging for a band.
If you have and questions or comments, go ahead and ask and I'll try to answer them
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
One of the other aspects of designing is just coming up with ideas. Where does the inspiration come from? It comes from lots of things. Previously we looked at snowflake 8 and how it grew into a doily. In this instance, my inspiration came from a crocheted hexagon. There are lots of things that might catch your attention and provoke you into thinking about ways that you might turn it into tatting. Sometimes you go looking for inspiration, and sometimes it comes looking for you.
A few years ago I saw a commercial for a fashion show and the black choker worn by one of the models intrigued me. I only saw it briefly as the model walked down the runway and off screen. It was a round black medallion on a black band and it looked somewhat like a tattoo. The medallion was quite dense in the centre with some filigree toward the edge. As soon as I saw it I thought I could do it in tatting.
The first step was to create the medallion and I had to do a little planning before I started. I selected snowflake 3 as a base since it was the one most like the choker. A snowflake has 6 sides and you can turn it one of 2 ways.
You can have a single point on either side and 2 points top and bottom like the example on the left. If you attach the strap part of the choker this way it has to be skinny because you only have one side to join on to.
Or you can have 2 points on either side and one point top and bottom like this picture. That allows you to use a wider neck band, but then the top and bottom of the medallion only have a single point so the shape looks less round. Either way it wasn't quite what I was looking for.
Another option is to work with an 8 sided shape like this one shown here. 8 sides or pattern repeats allowed for 2 on top and bottom and 2 on each side. 8 repeats also made the snowflake that much larger which was another plus.
When you start with a central ring, you need to have some idea of where you're going with the design before you start. The central ring needs to be big enough for what you want to arrange around it and it needs to have enough picots on it. If you're doing a six sided snowflake you need 6 joining picots, but an 8 sided medallion needs 8 picots. Thinking about what you want to accomplish helps you to make some essential decisions before you begin.
If you tat quickly and you have a lot of available tatting time, you don't mind doing a design several times to get it just right. When you don't tat quickly and you don't have a lot of free tatting time, a little extra time thinking things through will help you get closer to doing it right the first time. If you're a novice designer, thinking before you tat will save you a lot of frustration.
Note: Picots are really the spaces between stitches. So if there isn't a picot there, you can wiggle a hook in between the stitches to do a join. But, if your other joining picots are longer you may see a difference in the final piece. When it's in the centre of a piece it is more likely to be seen than if this action is taken on the side of a project. I tend to keep all of my picots a medium size. As a designer, this is a trick I often find useful. Tatting is a slow meditative process and I may change my mind about how I want to work a project several times while in the process. If I start out planning one thing but see that a slight variation will work better I'll change my plans and start wiggling my hook between stitches.
When you are trying to figure out how many picots to use and where to put them, remember odd numbers work best. Look at the pictures above. If you're going to join onto this first round of the snowflake and make another row where are you going to join to the chains? Typically, the next rowwouldd join to either the base of the chains on the previous row or to the mid point of the chain. If there was only one picot on the chain it would be in the middle of the chain.
Let's say you wanted to double the number of pattern repeats on the next row of a doily starting with a first row like snowflake 3. That would mean you'd have to do 2 pattern repeats for each chain. Where would you place the picots? The easiest way is to use 3 equally spaced picots on each chain and then do the join on the next row to the first and third picot, leaving the middle picot free. You could also do 5 equally spaced picots and then do the joins on the second and fourth picot leaving the 1st, 3rd and 5th picot free. Using more picots gives you more options on subsequent rows.
Snowflake 3 uses a typical cloverleaf where all 3 rings of the cloverleaf are the same size. Just like choosing to use an 8 sided motif rather than a 6 sided one, the size of the rings, the size and placement of the picots and the number of picots affects the overall look of a design. See the 2 cloverleafs at the left? It's only one small change but it has an impact on the whole design I chose to use a cloverleaf with smaller side rings, and I also used smaller outer rings for the base motif, since they would be more like the filigree edge on the model's choker.
I needed a bigger medallion than just the snowflake shape and I added a second row of inward facing cloverleaves attached to the tip of the outward facing rings. I had to use twice as many cloverleaves to stretch around the outside of the snowflake. Each alternate cloverleaf wasn't attached to the snowflake, which allowed the outer row to flex easily, but unattached parts of a design are able to twist and turn so I usually try to avoid them. That's another little consideration when you are creating your own lace. Most of the time you'll want all of the rings attached to something or they won't stay in place.
This was the design. It was almost 3 inches across and it was too big to fit nicely on the neck, but it told me what I needed to know about the size. This partial bit hasn't been blocked and it cups severely. The picture may look flat, but the real thing isn't. So I learned that it was too big and that the stitch count I used in the chains needed to be increased.
Sometimes even with a good plan, you still have to make a couple of tries.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
After I completed snowflake #2 I knew I wanted something a little larger, but I didn't want anything too labour intensive and I wondered what it would look like if I faced the cloverleaves inward instead of outward. That presented a problem. The previous snowflakes all had a single rings facing inward. I knew that once I had cloverleaves facing inward I was going to have a big empty space in the middle and there wasn't going to be anything holding the cloverleaves in place .
The obvious answer was to attach them all to a central ring, but how big a ring did I need? Trial and error? I wouldn't know if I had it right until the whole motif was done. The motif with one ring inward and one outward took me about an hour to tat and with double the number of rings I could count on nearly 2 hours of tatting time just to find out how big that central ring needed to be.
This is where I used another designer's trick. I worked from the outside in. I knew what the outside was going to be, I knew that the chains had to be long enough to arch over the cloverleaves so I used chains with 3 picots (3-3-3-3). When you're doing something in reverse you have to think ahead a little. Take a look at the diagram. Remember this is how the pattern should be written, not how I tatted it.
I needed to be able to have all of the outside completed before doing the middle ring of the last cloverleaf. If I started at the cloverleaf, the last thing to be done would be the chain. In order to have the chain completed by the time I got to the last cloverleaf I had to start at the chain. When I got to the last cloverleaf I tatted the first ring with one shuttle the third ring with the second shuttle, then used both to make the central ring.
That positioned both threads in the middle of the motif and then I just started tatting a ring and tightened up the stitches, like you do when you close a ring. When I was at the point where I could join to the picot on the tip of the next cloverleaf, I had my stitch count of 4. Then I just finished the ring off using making 4 ds between the joins to the central ring. When I closed the ring, the motif was done.
This is a very simplistic version of working from the outside in. Take a look a Mark's post for September 28, 2006 and you can see that it's exactly what he's doing for the Geisha's sleeve. He's created a framework for the lace to give him a more precise way of establishing what he needs to do.
I was viewing an embroidery blogs and noted that the blogger had created her own stitch library as a reference tool. On the e-mail list I mentioned that I have a bag full of scraps from things I have tatted that didn't work. In a sense they are my reference library. If I want to know how big a ring is going to be in a certain thread with a certain stitch count, I can just look for a sample that size. I can fit different pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle and see what is visually appealing.
Don't consider a design that didn't come out the way you expected it, as a failure. You not only learned through the process what doesn't work, you've also gained another piece of reference material.
Now that you know the stitch count for the inner ring which is used in the remaining snowflakes, you have enough information to figure out the rest of them for yourself. As a way of stretching your abilities and your confidence, I'm not going to give you the rest of the snowflake patterns. You can do it without.
Next we're going to look at what else you can do with a snowflake, but that's for another post.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
"I've always fancied designing and didn't know where to start." That's the way a lot of people feel. They seem to think that only a few people can design. That isn't true. The truth is only a few people actively try to design things. If you've followed Jane Eborall's blog you'll know that she started to tat a long time ago. She has the experience of a lot of years of tatting to just know when and how things will work. With that experience comes a certain amount of speed. As a beginner, struggling to complete each stitch, the idea of experimenting and just throwing away or cutting off a piece of lace is heartbreaking. For a novice a small motif might take several days to complete, but the experienced tatter might do the same motif in less than and hour.
One of the things you have to face as a designer is that things may not work as anticipated. Several years ago I designed an oval doily and the tatter who requested it wanted something simple and something with a lot of picots. Notice the centre? Does it look familiar? If you think it looks like snowflake #1, you'd be right. It's another one of the snowflake doilies.
Both the pink doily and the oval doily have similarities. For sure their centres are similar and they are both just rows of ring and chain, but their shapes are different and while the pink doily has very few decorative picots, the oval one has hundreds. The lack of picots makes the geometric shape of the diamonds really stand out in the pink doily, there's nothing to get in the way of the shape. On the other hand, the picots on the oval doily make the lines of the chains appear thicker and really outlines parts of the doily.
The oval doily was a real stinker to create. Several times entire rows had to be cut off because the stitch count didn't work. If you are making a circular shape you can just repeat a pattern segment and it's the same all the way around. In an oval shape the sides have to stretch farther than the ends. I had a drawing that gave me a rough idea of how to proceed, but I had to abandon the drawing and go back to the simple trial and error method. Sometimes you just have to accept that the only way you are going to know if an idea will work is to try it.
So, where do you start? You start with what you know. For example, do you know what the impact of picots have on a piece of lace? Tat a length of edging doing three rings of 5-5-5-5 and chains of 5-5-5. Then do rings of 5-3-3-3-5 and chains of 3-3-3-3-3 then do rings of 2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 and chains of 2-2-2-2-2-2-2. You can do even more variations and you can alter the length of the picots. See the difference? Now you know something you didn't know before, and you have a piece of tatting that you can use as a reference.
"Sometimes what I do is just cut and tie (at the end of a row) and after is finished then I study it to see a flowing path using split rings and chains." It's not unusual if you have just cut off a row that isn't working and re-attached your thread, to start back at a different point. If you're designing you may tat a piece one way, yet write instructions for it another.
For example, snowflake #8 starts in the centre, but for the doily it starts on the ring at the top of the chain. If you have just cut off part of a row, you may have to join your thread at an inward facing ring, (like the rings in the centre) rather than at an outward facing ring. Once you have the project completed, you know where you need to start and how you need to climb from row to row, so when you draw it, if you are using a visual diagram, or write it out, you will give instructions that tell people how to do it logically, not necessarily the way you worked it.
Actually, because you don't always know where you are going with a design, you sometimes end up doing some really awkward and bizarre climbing out. For example, you start a new row and think I wish I'd put an outward facing ring at this point so that I could connect to it. But you don't have an outward facing ring and so you do an SCMR to put a ring where you need it or maybe you do a combination of a ring off the side of a split ring in combination with a SCMR or something else weird. It's not what you'd normally do, but it lets you have something that looks the same and when you write out the pattern you write it the way you should have tatted it. Sometimes I find myself tatting bits and connecting them together. I might do a wing of a butterfly and the second wing just doesn't work. I cut off the offending bits and just tat the second wing not worrying about climbing out or anything just to see if an idea works. When I get something that I like, I start over again and do the whole thing properly using split rings or whatever I need to achieve the results I want.
If I'm doing a simple motif I might start with a ring of 4-4-4-4 but decide that a ring of 6-6-6-6 would look better, or allow for a more advantageous picot placement, I don't start again, I just keep going. I may end up with 4 or 5 different rings and as many different chains. It doesn't matter. Each one tells me something. Then I can start again and do the whole thing over again incorporating all of the variations I want to keep.
"I tried to enlarge the pattern because I can't read it very well." As you have probably noticed, the stitch count for the doily is almost unreadable. Blogger is shrinking the image to fit it into the space and while I might be able to re-do the diagram for part of the doily, I'm not going to be able to get much more to fit into the blog. I've decided that I'm going to re-make the doily so that I have a reliable stitch count for it and I'll include it in the next newsletter. If you are feeling adventuresome and want to try it from the information already given, I will answer any questions you have.
Jane made some terrific observations and while she described her approach to designing as hit or miss, we all know that her designs are always a hit. She also mentioned that when she's designing a particular animal she looks for a generic picture to use as a guideline for her pattern. So do I. It helps to have a visual reference to work with usually something without a lot of detail, but with the important parts clearly marked. Clip art is often more helpful than a photograph because it is stripped down to just the essentials. Kids colouring books can be very helpful for this kind of thing. Sometimes I bring the picture into my drawing program, stretch it to a large size and then draw the key points right on the picture. Then I can remove the picture and fill in the spaces with oval or round shapes representing rings or cloverleaves and link them together with curved lines for chains.
Jane also stated that she rarely sketches an idea she just tats and tats until it's right. I find it hard to do that with larger projects although the daffodils were created without a drawing. I happened to have a couple of reject pieces of tatting sitting on my desk and it gave me an idea. I loaded my shuttles and tatted the flower start to finish and it just turned out right. I didn't even need to draw the leaves, they just worked out but for bigger pieces I find a drawing gives me a framework to work with. I often do rough drawings without stitch count or picots to work from and I add the stitch count and picots after I'm done.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Have you figured out the second row of the doily?. The snowflake starts with a ring in the centre and ends with the last chain joining back to the starting ring. That's OK for a snowflake, but when you are working on a doily you want to be able to continue on to the next row. In fact, if you have an idea of how the design is going to develop, as I did with this pattern, you want to think ahead not only for the next row, but several rows so that you can climb from one row to the next in the most efficient manner.
Sometimes designs just happen, especially smaller designs. You find yourself just tatting away and you try something a little different. Maybe the change is just adding more picots, or making a cloverleaf with small outer rings instead of all the same size or changing the connection point on a ring. Sometimes you like the results and sometimes you don't.
Sometimes, like with this design you sketch something out and work from your sketch. When you are designing something for your own use, it doesn't matter where you start or end, but if you are going to design your own pattern, you really ought to write it down. That way you can repeat the pattern again later. You may even publish your pattern so you want to think in terms of explaining what you are doing to someone else.
The central snowflake when used in the doily begins with the ring at the top of the chain. This allows the row to end back at the top of the chain where the snowflake joins into the transition row. Sometimes the best way to solve a maze puzzle is not by starting at the beginning, but by starting at the end and working backwards. Since this design was already drawn and I was just following the diagram, I just had to find a pathway that let me work from row to row.
That means looking at where the current row is going to end and then seeing what is the best way to climb into the next row. There are often several ways of climbing from one row to the next in a doily. Some pathways can require a single split ring, while others may require a split chain with a ring at the end working backwards into another split ring and it can get very complicated. Sometimes the required steps to move from row to row just aren't worth it. Especially on the outer rounds of a doily where you may find you have to stop and re-fill your shuttle anyway. Sometimes the best method of climbing out it just cut and tie. Don't be afraid to suggest cut and tie in such a case. Your the designer, you get to make the rules.
I already mentioned that the rings in the snowflake had a total of 18 stitches and the rings on the succeeding rows had to be either 16 or 20 stitches. If you figured out that they were 20 stitches, you were right.
Here's the diagram with row 2. Notice that some of the rings are shaded or partly shaded. The shading denotes the rings or parts of rings that are done with the second shuttle. This is a method I use to make my patterns easier to understand. You'll also notice some arrows along the chains or going through the centre of a split ring. They tell you the direction of the work.
That first block of 7 rings is where row 2 begins and ends. The first part of it is marked A,B,C,D then the design continues on to the next pattern repeat. At the end of the row it is marked AA, BB, CC. Then it climbs into row 3, which begins the base of the diamonds.
Whether you write your patterns out using long or short notation, or draw a visual pattern, try to think not only of what you want to say, but think about how someone else might interpret your instructions. Make the assumption the the person working from your pattern is a new tatter who doesn't have any experience. Some things that you wouldn't have to tell an experienced tatter, you do have to tell a beginner. Always write your patterns so that a beginner can follow them. If a beginner can work from it, then anyone can.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I haven't been doing much lace for the newsletter or for the 25 motif challenge mostly because I've been doing this. DMC gold thread on white satin, a gift for my brother and his wife who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The lettering is embroidered in chain stitch using 2 strands of the same thread. This heart has turned out to be a useful little pattern and I've decided to put it in the next newsletter.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I used to stare at my crocheted tablecloth pictured on the right and think those round shapes in it remind me of tatted rings. Then one day I sat down with the drawing program and started to build rings to make the diamond shape like in the tablecloth. I needed a large enough centre to start from to get the required size and shape to make it work and I decided that I wanted to use snowflake number 8 for the centre. After that I needed to make a transition row from the snowflake into the diamond shape I had already drawn.
Once I had the rings laid out in the pattern I wanted it was just a matter of tatting the chains long enough to stretch from one grouping of rings to the next. All the rings are the same size, so can you figure it out? I have given the doily away and the picture shown here is all there is to work from.
How would you go about tatting this? When we're tatting snowflakes we start with the rings in the middle. Now we're making a doily and we have to think a little differently. We need to be able to go seamlessly from one row to the next, so where do we start?
The second row, that transition row is a grouping of 7 rings obviously some of them have to be split rings. Here is a partial drawing without any stitch count or any picots. How would you solve this puzzle? Where would you start the snowflake in order to climb out of one row into the next? How would you get from the transition row into the rest of the doily.Try printing off the drawing and tracing the pathway you think ought to be followed.
The rings on the snowflake are 5 picots separated by 3 doublestitches. The doily has very few decorative picots what do you think the stitch count is for the rings in the body of the doily? The snowflake has 6 segments of 3, or 18 stitches in each ring . The body of the doily has rings with only 3 picots or 4 segments with X number of stitches. 18 does not divide by 4 so the rings have to be either slightly smaller (16 stitches) or slightly larger (20 stitches).
I'd like to see what answers you come up with before continuing.
Friday, October 06, 2006
See the same inner ring arrangement for all 3 snowflakes? Look at the chain, it's the same chain with 2 picots. The outer edge has been changed by simply alternating a single ring with a cloverleaf. Small changes, but a totally different look.
Maybe you think you can't design. Could you have done this? Of course you could, you just have to have the confidence in yourself to try. Take a look at number 8 could you do that one? Does it look a little bit dopey to you? After 8 quick variations on a theme, I was running out of ideas and number 8 is the results. We'll look at number 8 next.
Are you enjoying this? Is it giving you ideas? I can see that a lot of folks have been stopping by, but I don't know if it's being helpful or not without feedback. Are there questions you want to ask? Don't be shy, others probably want to know too.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
There were 2 changes to this design. Did you catch them both? The obvious change was the replacement of the single ring on the outside of the chain with a cloverleaf. See how much of a difference it made? The first one looks naked in comparison and the denseness of the rings around the outside of the motif makes the negative space created by the chains really stand out.
Did you notice the other change? The chains on the first motif have 3 picots between the inner ring and the outer ring. The second motif has only 2.
Could you figure out what the stitch count was for the cloverleaves? If you guessed 3, you were right.
If you didn't, take a look at the inner rings. You can see that they are the same size in both motives and I told you what the stitch count was for the first snowflake. Now look at the rings on the cloverleaves, see that they are the same size again?
When I'm designing something flat like a doily I tend to stay with the same kind of stitch count. It means that in drawing software I can start with one ring and just keep pasting it. The design is uniform so I don't have major adjustment headaches. Not only that, when someone tats the design they can enjoy the process instead of having to check every ring to make sure they have the stitch count straight. I have used different sizes in a design especially where shaping is an issue. I just don't usually.
Designing isn't hard and the best way to get into it is to do something like this. Start with a known design and change just one element. Then use your new design and change one more element. Eventually you have a totally new pattern.
Here's the pattern for the second motif. How close did you come?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Here are some of the things that I think it's good for although I'm sure there are more:
- It keeps you tatting.
- It gives you a tangible goal.
- It gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and find creative ways to fix them.
- Group effort gives you the encouragement to continue.
- The challenge is personal. You aren't competing with anyone else, you are just challenging yourself to keep going.
- It gives beginners a reason to keep tatting and thereby provides them the opportunity to improve their skills.
- It gives designers a reason to design. (As if they needed it.)
- It has created many wonderful new laces which give others the opportunity to share in the design process and to see how designers develop their designs.
- It has given newer designers a reason to write out their designs.
- It has given tatters a greater sense of community.
I promised that I'd start to show the design process I go through. I'm sure other designers probably do some of the same things. You've no doubt heard me mention before that I once did a series of snowflakes to go out in the Christmas cards to my family. I began with the lacy snowflake from the trio below. It's very pretty and I did enough of them for Rob's family but the lace is very dense and they took a long time to tat and I have 8 siblings! I needed something roughly the same size, but faster to make.
In the picture above you can see the 8 snowflakes I eventually ended up with. I've numbered them so that you can see how they evolved. The first one is a variation of the beaded snowflake from my web site, so I already knew the stitch count.
Here's the pattern for the first one and in case you can't read the stitch count everything is 3. Knowing where I started from, can you figure out the pattern for the next one? Experienced designers would laugh at the question, but if you haven't designed before, see if you can. Many times I have created a new design because I just made a mistake in reading a pattern. Designing isn't hard, but like tatting, it takes practice. This is a very forgiving design that's really hard to mess up, so it's a good piece to start with. And you know what? I'm still doing variations of this same design.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Want to see what I've been playing with? Here's a first draft.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Here's a motif that might work for the challenge.
One of the things I hadn't considered was that I could create a bunch of snowflakes that won't morph easily. Can you see this one as either a heart or a butterfly? I'm having a hard time imagining what it would look like. The rounded arches might make it for the bunps on a heart, but then I'll have to lose to of the inner points so it's do-able, I guess. Where do I make the butterfly body?
See what I mean about using these motives as a study in design? Drawing them out may help to see where I need to go. Or maybe not.
So either the challenge is to be that much more creative, or to create that many more motives that I have 30 useable ones. What have I gotten myself into !
One further note about the newsletter. I think I can! I see light at the end of this tunnel. I've decided to do the heart I did for my neice's wedding album in gold thread with thie names and 50 years in the open spaces. I have a couple of weeks so, Lord willing, I should be able to get it done. While waiting for some other stuff to get done on the computer, I doodled a drawing of a doily the other day that looks like it's a workable design.
All things are possible.